Car-Themed Activities for Metro Detroit Kids

Buckle up! Little car lovers of all ages will love these local speedways, auto museums, hobby shops and more.

An auto obsession is almost a rite of passage for many kids. From rolling Hot Wheels cars over any surface they can get their hands on to binge-watching the Pixar “Cars” movies, anyone who’s interacted with a toddler knows that cars, trucks and all things automobiles are at the top of their little minds. 

Even researchers have taken an interest in children’s extreme love for cars and trucks. A study in “Developmental Psychology” referred to children’s first fixations as “extremely intense interests,” and many of those intense interests are focused on cars due to their sensory appeal. 

Cars are loud with spinning wheels, moving parts and made in a variety of bright colors, making them naturally appealing to little ones in the sensorimotor stage of development. What begins as a toddler fixation often grows into a genuine interest in motor vehicles. 

Luckily for your truck-obsessed toddlers and older car-loving kids, Detroit is called the Motor City for a reason. There is so much automotive history to learn about and explore here, as well as plenty of nearby speedways and local hobby shops to keep the city’s love for cars running. 

For your next family outing, race to a day of fun at the speedway, auto museum, hobby shop and more exciting car destinations around the Motor City.

Automotive Hall of Fame 

The Automotive Hall of Fame honors the innovative people behind the scenes of the automotive industry. Learn about the birth of the automobile, the origin of motorsports and more, all from the stories of the people who made these technologies possible. 

Downriver Speedway & Hobby 

Enjoy a day of racing on the miniature level at the Downriver Speedway. This hobby shop specializes in all things slot car racing. Stop by and take a retro car for a spin! It’s a fun, inexpensive way to spend time with your little car lovers. 

Flat Rock Speedway

Experience the thrill of the track at the Flat Rock Speedway. From street stock cars to Outlaw Super Late Models, the speedway hosts a variety of racing events, often with deals for kids and opportunities to get autographs from the drivers. 

Ford Rouge Factory Tour

Tour the Ford Rouge Factory and learn about the heyday of Detroit’s automotive history. Visitors can view antique Ford Model As and classic Thunderbirds and Mustangs. Plus, kids can get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of America’s iconic Ford trucks as they learn about manufacturing, past and present (and future!) 

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant

If you’re looking for a deep dive into the history of the Motor City, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is the route to take. 

Known as the birthplace of the iconic Model T, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant is one of the oldest surviving automobile factories in the world. Visitors can learn about Detroit’s early automotive history and innovation, and kids will be surprised when they see some of Ford’s oldest vehicles.

The plant is recognized as a MotorCities National Heritage Area, a Michigan State Historic Site and holds a place in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Full Throttle Adrenaline Park

Your child has a long wait before they can get behind the wheel of a vehicle themselves, but that doesn’t mean they can’t experience the thrill of driving — it just needs to be in a safe, controlled environment like the one at Full Throttle Adrenaline Park in Sterling Heights. 

Kids ages 7 and up can experience the thrill of racing at this indoor speedway. Junior karts are reserved for racers ages 7-14 to ensure a safe ride.

Great Lakes Hobby & Toy

Find planes, trains and automobiles at Great Lakes Hobby & Toy. This shop carries model kits, remote control cars, old-school slot cars and all the auto accessories your kids could dream of, making it the perfect spot for car lovers of all ages.

Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Where better to learn about cars, trucks and all other automobiles throughout history than at the Henry Ford museum? Families can easily spend an entire day here, but car lovers will want to prioritize the Build a Model T activity at “Made in America: Manufacturing;” “Driving America;” “Presidential Vehicles” and “Drive to Win: Racing in America.” 

Hobbytown

This Southfield hobby shop is loved by customers for its knowledgeable staff and its wide selection of remote-controlled cars and trucks. If your kiddo is ready to transition from toy cars, this is a great place for them to discover a new car-related hobby.  

HOTT SLOTS

Introduce your little car lover to slot car racing at HOTT SLOTS in Westland. The hobby shop has everything you need to build and customize your own slot car to your exact preferences. The store hosts races on a drag strip track and on a course with plenty of twists and turns. 

M1 Concourse

The M1 Concourse hosts a variety of community and private events throughout the year, including classic car shows and the Xtreme Xperience, an event where kids can ride along in a race car with a professional driver. 

Nankin Hobby 

With four metro Detroit locations, Nankin Hobby has no shortage of remote control cars, trucks, planes, trains and helicopters for your child to choose from. 

Prop Shop Hobbies

Shop slot cars and trucks, remote control vehicles, automotive models and more at this Warren hobby shop. 

Roush Automotive Collection

Take the kids to see more than 100 vehicles from Roush Racing and Enterprises. The 30,000-square-foot facility houses displays, artifacts, trophies and memorabilia that showcase the Roush racing legacy. The collection is in a private facility, so visitors must call ahead to set up an appointment. 

Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy Inc. 

While some hobby shops cater to adults and collectors, Whistle Stop Hobby & Toy is a car-obsessed kid’s dreamland. The store is stocked with models and remote control vehicles, as well as puzzles, crafts and toys that all kids will love. 


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Metro Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for metro Detroit families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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